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Holger Salach

publication 'Alles kann - nichts muss' (diploma work)
© FOC / Erwan Frotin

Holger Salach in his studio
© FOC / Körner Union, Lausanne






Publication 'Alles kann - nichts muss' (diploma work)


Seeing and being seen

How can partnerswapping be recorded photographically? With a lot of naked skin, genitals, male and female bodies locked in embraces as couples or combinations of more people. And yet the Zurich – based photographer Holger Salach's 'Alles kann – nichts muss' (everything can – nothing must) does not meet the expectations of professional pornography. The bodies of the men and women involved are not specially chosen, but quite ordinary; the lighting is crude, and scarcely flatters their naked skin. The settings for the partner-swapping, private dwellings, are anything but glamorous. As well as interior views, Salach also shows desolate-looking car parks, entrances to houses, streets, petrol stations and motorway service stations, and the occasional view out of a home.

The photographs were taken over a period of three years and submitted in book form as a diploma project from the photography class at the Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst Zürich. The photographer juxtaposes his austere, unspectacular images with texts. These reproduce contacts being made via ads on the Internet, with partners who are willing to swap arranging to meet. Salach has also constantly captured in his pictures how participating swingers take photographs of themselves as a hobby. The fact is that sexuality is shifted from a private to a semi-public context on this scene: seeing and being seen is perhaps even more important than the sexual act itself.

As a professional photographer, Salach was also confronted with the swingers' established ideas about pictures. Someone remarks in one of the e-mail messages that Salach's photographs had been a little disappointing: 'We had expected considerably more aesthetic photographs.' Holger Salach's conceptual image – text documentation wrests a fresh and intelligent view from a subject that is supposedly played out. Here he is relying quite calculatingly on the viewers' voyeurism, and he is just as deliberately slipping under their guard as well.
Peter Stohler



Holger Salach





Designer FH mit Vertiefung in Fotografie